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Understanding How Ablation Works

Understanding How Ablation Works

As many as one in four women suffers from a menstrual disorder during her reproductive years. While some menstrual disorders cause light or infrequent periods, others cause heavy bleeding and long, painful periods.

Menorrhagia, dysmenorrhea, and endometriosis are three of the most common disorders that can cause excessive bleeding and pelvic pain that are so severe, they interfere with your life. Hormonal birth control can be an effective treatment option, but if you’ve tried it and it hasn’t offered relief from your symptoms, you might be considering endometrial ablation.

Ablation is a minimally invasive procedure to treat heavy bleeding associated with endometriosis and other menstrual disorders. It can be very effective, but it’s important to understand how it works before deciding if it’s right for you.

Katie Ostrom, MD, and our team in Homer, Alaska, provide comprehensive gynecology care for women, and we’re here to help you learn more about how endometrial ablation works.

How ablation treats menstrual disorders

Your uterus has a thin lining of tissue called endometrium. The endometrium naturally thickens over the course of your menstrual cycle to prepare for a possible pregnancy. If you don’t get pregnant during that cycle, your uterus sheds the endometrium and you have your menstrual period.

The average menstrual period lasts 2-7 days, but women with menorrhagia may have periods lasting longer than a week or experience unusually heavy bleeding during their periods.

Endometriosis is another common gynecological condition that causes endometrial tissue to grow outside your uterus. This tissue thickens and sheds, but it gets trapped in your body and often causes pain and heavier bleeding during periods.

Ablation is a minimally invasive procedure that permanently destroys a layer of endometrial tissue. When it’s destroyed, menstrual bleeding is effectively reduced or stopped completely. If you have endometriosis, ablation can remove the patches of tissue growing elsewhere in your pelvic area.

When to consider endometrial ablation

Dr. Ostrom and our team take a conservative approach to treatment. If you're diagnosed with endometriosis or a menstrual disorder, we often start treatment with medication to regulate your menstrual cycle. If medication isn’t effective enough, it might be time to consider ablation.

You should only consider endometrial ablation if you’re confident that you don't want to get pregnant in the future. Ablation makes pregnancy unlikely, but not impossible. If you do get pregnant, your risk of miscarriage and other complications is much higher.

If you want the option to get pregnant in the future, talk to Dr. Ostrom and our team about alternatives to ablation.

What to expect during endometrial ablation

Endometrial ablation is a simple in-office procedure. Dr. Ostrom performs ablation on an outpatient basis, which means you can go home the same day.

There are no incisions with ablation. We start by gently widening your cervix, then insert a small probe into your uterus. The probe emits heat energy that warms endometrial tissue and destroys it.

Recovery takes about two hours once ablation is complete. You may experience side effects in the days following the procedure, which can include cramping, vaginal discharge, and frequent urination. Most women return to their usual daily activities in 1-2 days.

You don’t have to live with heavy periods and persistent pelvic pain. Book a consultation with Dr. Ostrom to find out if endometrial ablation is a good option for you. Call us at 907-435-0555 or request an appointment online now.

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